An Australian Shepherd has stepped in to care for three Malayan tiger cubs that were ignored by their mom.
The cubs, which were born February 3, are being cared for by the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s nursery staff, and now by their furry friend, Blakely, as well.
Blakely provides snuggles and comfort and a body for the cubs to climb on, according to the zoo.
The pup is no newbie to this, however, as he has been a nanny to several other zoo animals, including cheetahs, wallabies, and warthogs.
“He’s more than just a large, warm pillow for the cubs. Blakely is the adult in the room,” said Dawn Strasser, head of Cincinnati Zoo’s nursery staff. “He teaches them proper tiger etiquette by checking them when they’re getting too rough or aggressive. This is something that their human surrogates can’t do.”
The cubs, named Chira, Batari, and Izzy, would have received similar cues from their mom, so Blakely is the next best thing.
“My team can feed and care for the tiger cubs, but we can’t teach them the difference between a play bite and one that means, ‘Watch out.’ So, that’s Blakely’s job,” said Strasser. “Just a little time with him at this early age will help them learn behaviors that will come in handy when they meet tigers at other zoos in the future.”
The cubs will move to the Zoo’s Cat Canyon this summer after they have received their last round of immunizations.